Opposition hounds Siddaramaiah and he relents

Angry Janata Dal (Secular) and Bharatiya Janata Party members in the Legislative Assembly forced Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to replace the former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s portrait on the wall of his office on Thursday.

The House had witnessed a furore over the issue on Wednesday too.

JD(S) members resorted to a dharna against the “adamant” stand of the Chief Minister. Though members of the BJP did not join the protest, they supported the JD(S) as the portrait of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was also removed.

Mr. Siddaramaiah defended his decision citing parliamentary norms. But the Opposition was in no mood to relent. Mr. Siddaramaiah argued that the removal of the portraits was “unintentional”. While it is mandatory to hang the portraits of the President, Prime Minister and Mahatma Gandhi, “the photographs of others is left to the discretion of the Chief Minister”, he said.

The former Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar accused Mr. Siddaramaiah of practising vindictive politics and described his behaviour as “mean”. He criticised him for removing Mr. Vajpayee’s portrait. “We did not remove the pictures of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi during our tenure,” he said. JD(S) member Y.S.V. Datta said the Chief Minister’s office was not a Congress party office to hang only portraits of Congress Prime Ministers and appealed to Mr. Siddaramaiah to replace the portrait without making it a prestige issue.

Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa intervened, assuring members that he would sort out the issue by convening a meeting of the Chief Minister and Leaders of the Opposition. The House was briefly adjourned. Mr. Siddaramaiah eventually agreed to replace the portraits heeding the advice of the Speaker. Mr. Thimmappa later said the removal of portraits was unintentional and “a routine matter”.